July 11, 2014

Water, water everywhere...

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”
― Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Most of the time that I fish I don't carry water. Oh, water is great, but it's really heavy (US liquid gallon of water weighs about 8.34 pounds or 3.78 kilograms at 62 °F (17 °C). Still, I'm surrounded by water, so why should I carry any?

Daniel Galhardo, of Tenkara USA, recently blogged about what he uses for hydration when he's out on the stream. He realized, like me, that since he has water all around him that he didn't need to carry water. But he also realized that the water needs to be filtered first. If you haven't read his post, you should.

I too realize a long time ago that I didn't usually need to carry water. Sure, I'll carry some if I'm hiking in a ways, but if the walk to the stream is short I don't. So a few years back, I started carrying a personal compact water filtration straw so that I could drink out of the water I was fishing without the worry of getting "beaver fever", medically known as giardiasis. I've never had it personally, but I have treated hundreds of patients throughout my career for it. It causes nausea, then abdominal cramps, then explosive diarrhea. Sounds great, doesn't it.

Daniel's product is excellent, and I recommend you take a look at it and seriously consider it. But what I use is called LifeStraw.  It is a very compact, very lightweight and very efficient. The LifeStraw is a plastic tube 310 mm long and 30 mm in diameter. Water that is drawn up through the straw first passes through hollow fibers that filter water particles down to 0.2 microns across, using only physical filtration methods and no chemicals. The entire process is powered by suction, similar to using a conventional drinking straw, and filters up to 1000 litres of water, although it has been tested, and passed, more that 1600 liters of filtration. LifeStraw now removes a minimum of 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites including giardia and cryptosporidium, while also removing all bacterial pathogens.

I carry my LifeStraw either by it's included lanyard, or in my daypack. It doesn't get in the way, and since it's so lightweight I don't even know it's there until I need to use it.

Is it perfect? No, what is. LifeStraw doesn't remove viruses, like Norovirus (you know, cruise ship diarrhea). But Norovirus is rare in North American backcountry water sources. LifeStraw also doesn't remove environmental toxins or pollutants. But it has been used all over the world by the WHO to prevent water borne illness. It has been tested on every continent, by people who have no training in water filtration (i.e. regular people), and it has been tested on some of the nastiest water you can imagine. That's good enough for me.

I also like the LifeStraw does for the worldwide community. They give back. Here is what they say on the website: "When you purchase any type of LifeStraw® filter, we use part of the funds to distribute LifeStraw® Community institutional water purifiers to schools in Africa." You can read the details here.

I also have the family version of LifeStraw. It's with my emergency supplies. It filters by gravity, is simple to use, and is compact to carry.

LifeStraw Family version.

Whether you use LifeStraw, or Tenkara USA's filter system, or what ever, make sure you filter your stream water before you drink it -- otherwise you can come and see me in my office.

Here is a short video of me using my LifeStraw on the stream.


  1. Like you I do not carry water when fishing because I have been using the Lifestraw and it is a very good product. The main advantages for me are that this allows to drink filtered water without the horrible taste of heated water from a plastic tank.
    Vestergaard as company is also involved in many actions worldwide to give to as many possible people access to safer water.

  2. Looke like a brilliant product, most of the time im fishing in urban waters that are chemically polluted and im usually in reach of a petrol station to buy a botyle of water but this would be great when im in the highlands, ill check it out, thanks for sharing.

  3. This will be perfect for high country fishing - thanks for the review!